How role play enhances learning and improves service delivery

For many years now we have seen a gradual transition from traditional classroom learning, such as the blackboard, reading materials etc., to more practical ways of learning. The introduction of more sophisticated technology has fuelled this trend. However, arguably the most powerful method of learning is role play, because role playing of workplace situations enables staff to practice applying practical skills and knowledge, before doing so in a real life, customer facing environment.

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What is role play?

Ladousse 1987 identifies role play as:

“the idea of ‘role’ is that of taking part in a specific situation, the idea of ‘play’ is associate with a safe environment and encouraging creativity.”

Role-play as a training technique enhances learning in many crucial ways. It gives Learners an opportunity to respond to ad hoc questions or real life situations and it also allows the opportunity to practice public speaking in an informal, relaxed environment. To be effective, trainers must ensure that scenarios of integrated learning must come from real life work experiences.

Role play can demonstrate that there are actually several solutions to a problem, and debate around this subject will yield creative, rich discussion around practices observed during the role play of work experiences.

Using professional actors

Using professional actors to train staff is the most effective way to prepare for real life scenarios, because professional actors use their voice and body to interpret a message or emotion. (Morry Van Ments, 1999). This in turn impacts on the simulation by evoking real life emotions from the trainee, which heightens the overall learning experience.

Benefits of role play for training

Role play enhances the learning experience and therefore employee performance by:

  • Facilitating practice of different types of behaviour
  • Providing an outlet to discuss issues and reservations
  • Portray real life group interaction
  • Brings academia to life
  • Accelerates the feedback process
  • Enabling hidden feelings to be expressed
  • Improves motivation because of the active nature of role play
  • Facilitates training where emotions and feelings can be managed

Role play is particularly important for customer facing activities such as healthcare, sales, customer service and therapy. One on one customer interaction means that the service provider has only one chance to deliver the right message in the right way. Therefore using role play as part of the training process is absolutely essential, if the service provider is to deliver this successfully. />

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